Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

Staying Connected After Birth

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Postpartum-Mama-Baby-Sleep

My life explorations as an adopted person and my studies of the foundations of human wellbeing have consistently turned up this fact: a key element of health is the experience of and capacity for connection.

Birth presents a unique, unrepeatable opportunity to foster connection. It is also important to understand the human costs when a mother and newborn cannot stay connected after birth — whether it is due to adoption, NICU confinement, health issues in the mother, or other circumstances requiring they be separated.

This is not about guilt or blame, but the empowerment that comes with understanding what happens with neonatal separation… and more importantly, what you can do to protect it and how you can help your baby heal when connection must be disrupted. {Read the rest of this post at mothering.com}

 

Image:
footloosiety,
Flickr | Creative Commons

Adoptive Parents in the Delivery Room?

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

As many of you may know, my roots are in the world of adoption: I myself was adopted, and throughout the 1990s I was a leading  speaker and writer on the psycho-social issues involved in adoption. I am still one of the few experts in the world on the primal issues in adoption — relating to an adoptee’s pre-verbal, pre-cognitive experiences, including those in the womb, at birth, and in the early days postpartum.

Nancy Verrier rocked the adoption world in 1993 when she published The Primal Wound, which proposes: “Many doctors and psychologists now understand that bonding doesn’t begin at birth, but is a continuum of physiological, psychological, and spiritual events which begin in utero and continue throughout the postnatal bonding period. When this natural evolution is interrupted by a postnatal separation from the biological mother, the resultant experience of abandonment and loss is indelibly imprinted upon the unconscious minds of these children, causing that which I call the primal wound.”

Nancy brought three important credentials to the table:  she was a psychotherapist who had worked with many adopted people wrestling with similar constellations of social and emotional difficulties; she was a scholar who had extensively studied the literature on attachment, separation and loss; and she was the mother of two daughters — one biological and one adopted. The insights she found at the intersection of those learning streams comprised her landmark book.

A Personal Journey

Bee&BabyMI have always been open about sharing that at the heart of everything I teach and the tools I use in parent coaching, beats my own raw and ragged story. Finding Nancy’s book was an important moment in my own healing journey, and it also prompted me to investigate the field of prenatal psychology. It didn’t take long to recognize that many of the issues Nancy wrote about — intimacy problems, separation anxieties, self-esteem issues — weren’t the exclusive province of adoptees, far from it!

So just about ten years into a robust speaking and writing career within the adoption field, I earned my PhD in Early Human Development, with a specialization in Prenatal Development. These were universal issues and I wanted to illuminate them more universally!

But what to do with a trove of writing on adoption topics?? And in particular, an exclusive, extensive conversation I had had with Nancy (who by then had become a close colleague) but never really published anywhere? That was about the time when magazines were on the wane and the internet was ascending… but the internet was like the Wild Wild West and one could emerge pretty bruised when engaging in one of the last remaining taboos in our culture — honest talk about adoption.

Dawn Davenport of “Creating a Family” had reached out to me a couple years ago after reading an article I’d written about the primal wound. She found my explanation / interpretation to be most helpful, and invited me to do a radio interview. So I thought of Dawn and her site as a place to entrust my 2-part conversation with Nancy, as well as a round-up of responses to Nancy’s (radical, one could say) ideas from a handful of adoptive parents, birth parents and adoption professionals I respect.

Dawn re-ordered the sequence of topics so as to come right outta the gate with the incendiary question, “Should adoptive parents be in the delivery room?” Her readers aren’t shy with their opinions — see what YOU think!

Should Adoptive Parents be in the Delivery Room?

 

 

My Three Mothers: An Appreciation

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

I had three mothers and I needed them all. I’m dedicating this Mother’s Day reflection to all you mamas out there who fill so many roles and wear so many hats in meeting your children’s needs — and you’re  just one mother! You are masters of the bob-and-weave, performing complex multi-task maneuvering to cover the many bases required of moms.

My three mothers divvied up the task, though certainly not by design. It just sorta worked out that way.

Liz, My Birthmother

LizSmokingThroughout my childhood, I was matter-of-fact about the idea of having another mother out there somewhere. I remember fantasizing only once or twice that she was really one of my mother’s friends, someone I’d known all along. When my father asked me, soon after my mother died, if I wanted to find my birthmother, my interest blossomed from its dormancy.

Since mine was an independent, open adoption (one of the first ever), there was virtually no “search” required.  My birthmother’s name was right there in the San Francisco white pages. I don’t really remember what Liz and I talked about during that first phone call. I was floating through an unreal place, and our mundane chit-chat felt surreal in juxtaposition. The bottom line was the setting of our blind date. {Read on at mothering.com}

 

On My Birthday…How Adoption is Unique

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Liz's last birthdayAs an adopted person, my birthday this week brings thoughts about my somewhat complicated entry into this world, thoughts about some ways that adoption is unique.

Before getting my degree and writing Parenting for Peace, my previous body of work explored the psychological and social issues in adoption. Understanding how adoption is unique can help bring healing and wholeness to everyone involved. {Read more at mothering.com}

 

Staying Connected After Birth: A Peaceful Beginning

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Postpartum-Mama-Baby-Sleep

My life explorations as an adopted person and my studies of the foundations of human wellbeing have consistently turned up a key element of health: the experience of and capacity for connection. Birth presents us a momentous opportunity to foster connection. It is also important to understand the costs of not staying connected after birth — whether it is due to adoption, NICU confinement, health issues in the mother, or other circumstances preventing mother-newborn connectedness. This is not about guilt or blame, but the empowerment that comes with understanding what happens with neonatal separation. {Read the rest of this post at mothering.com}

Rethinking Adoption in the 21st Century

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

For generations, formal adoption in America consisted overwhelmingly of white babies who were born to white, unwed women and were parented by white, married couples. Our laws, policies, practices, attitudes and understanding were based on that reality – and yet adoption in the 21st century has changed quite radically. The demographics of adopted children – and the characteristics of expectant and prospective parents – no longer look anything like the ones for whom the institution was first created. (more…)

“Out of Everydayness”: How Adoption is Unique

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Before getting my degree and writing Parenting for Peace, my previous body of work explored the psychological and social issues in adoption. Understanding how adoption is unique can help bring healing and wholeness to everyone involved. Last weekend, as I basked in Hawaii’s soothing trade winds and the wisdom being shared at the Mid-Pacific Conference on Birth & Primal Health Research, I was inspired by the uniquely Hawaiian concepts of hanai and ‘ohana. These have to do with family connections that expand and expand, without anyone losing one’s own history. (more…)

Talking About Adoption…Honestly

Monday, November 5th, 2012
Mitchell, Lily & Cam | "Modern Family"

Mitchell, Lily & Cam, “Modern Family”‘s adoptive family

Talking about adoption honestly supports healthy emotional development for both children and parents. Yet it is not always the easy choice. False cheer and inaccurate platitudes often feel like the less challenging way to go. (As Mitchell discovered in a light-hearted treatment of this issue on a recent Modern Family. He found it easier to tell Lily her mother was a princess–until she became obsessed with princesses!)

The road to adoption is invariably a challenging one for many adoptive parents, marked by many losses— (more…)

How Early Life Influences Us: My Roots as an Adoptee

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

One of the most unique things about Parenting for Peace is it’s the only parenting book that collates, contextualizes, and includes guidelines around the latest research on how powerfully early life influences us.

Author's birthparents

My birth parents Bob & Liz, 3 months before my birth

In other words, how soon parenting begins.

For me, all of this is eminently personal: it grows from the ground of my own lifelong experience, beginning in the womb of a mother who knew she would not keep me. Who met a couple who had suffered some steep losses — the death of a baby, a near-fatal miscarriage — and decided she was carrying me for them. Who held me just once that first day in the hospital, and didn’t see me again for twenty-one years.

It grows from the ground of my first six days spent in a hospital nursery, followed by the months and years in a home that was not, shall we say, steeped in “relational intelligence.” Things were pretty chilly. A bit lonely. And it wasn’t that my parents didn’t mean well, or have good intentions. They were short on information and understanding. That’s what I try to do with my book, my private coaching, my speaking appearances — make sure there is lots of information and understanding available about early life influences, so that your best intentions can be realized in practical, effective ways! (more…)